22 August 2014

AUS: Navies arrive in Darwin for major maritime warfare exercise

<< Warships from Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore form up off the coast of Darwin during Exercise Kakadu 2012

More than 1200 people, eight warships and 26 aircraft from 15 coalition nations are arriving in Darwin today for the Royal Australian Navy’s largest maritime warfare exercise, KAKADU 2014, to be held from 25 August to 12 September, 2014.

Participants will conduct tactical warfare planning and cultural exchanges in Darwin for the first week of the exercise then head to sea for high-end warfare serials including naval gunfire, communications, boardings and air defence in the following two weeks.

Commander Australian Fleet, Rear Admiral Stuart Mayer, said KAKADU 2014 aimed to concentrate neighbours from the Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean regions to build on and enhance maritime capability.

USA: Work Meets With Senior U.S., South Korean Officials

US Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work
(Wiki Info - Image: Wiki Commons)

DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Aug. 21, 2014 – During his visit to South Korea, Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work met with senior U.S. and Republic of Korea officials to review progress in transforming the U.S.-ROK alliance and reaffirm the United States' steadfast commitment to the defense of the ROK, Deputy Secretary of Defense Spokesperson Navy Lt. Cmdr. Courtney Hillson said in a statement issued today.

Hillson’s statement reads as follows:

“Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work visited the Republic of Korea (ROK) Aug. 20-21. During his visit, he met with senior U.S. and ROK officials to review progress in transforming the U.S.-ROK alliance and reaffirm the United States' steadfast commitment to the defense of the ROK.

“On Aug. 20, he met with U.S. Forces Korea Commander Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti and U.S. Ambassador to Korea Sung Y. Kim. Additionally, he met with senior ROK government officials including National Security Advisor Kim Kwan-jin and Defense Minister Han Min-Koo.

News Story: India plans US$10bn mountain strike corps to counter China

General Dalbir Singh Suhag (Image: Wiki Commons)

India is building a new 620-billion-rupee (US$10 billion) mountain strike corps to counter China along the China-India border in the northeastern part of the country, according to a report from the New Delhi-based Hindustan Times.

The report said General Dalbir Singh Suhag, Chief of the Army Staff of the Indian Army, is set to visit the Kolkata-based Eastern Command before the end of the month to track the progress of the new 17 Corps, which is being set up to counter China's reconnaissance and intelligence along the 4,057-kilometer Line of Actual Control (LAC) between the two countries. The corps is likely to be operational by 2022, the report said, adding that it is expected to reduce China's combat power advantage over India from the current ratio of 3:1 to 2.1:1.

Singh, who recently completed a tour along the the disputed LAC in the sensitive Ladakh area of India-controlled Jammu and Kashmir, has also served as an inspector general in a covert China-centric unit comprising Tibetan soldiers called the Special Frontier Force, the report added.

Read the full story at Want China Times

News Story: SCO not military alliance - PLA officer

Shanghai Cooperation Organisation

An upcoming anti-terror drill to be held among members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) does not indicate that it is becoming a military alliance, a senior People's Liberation Army (PLA) officer stressed on Wednesday.

"The SCO is a regional international organization in adherence to the principles of being non-aligned, non-confrontational and not targeted at any third party," said Wang Ning, chief director of the drill and deputy chief of the PLA general staff.

Cooperation among the member states aims at boosting mutual trust, maintaining regional stability, promoting the economic development of the region and member states, and building a new international economic and political order that is fair and rational, he added.

Read the full story at Want China Times

Editorial: Australia's Emerging Amphibious Warfare Capabilities

NUSHIP Canberra arrives in Sydney (File Photo)

By Peter Dean

Australia’s new Landing-Helicopter Dock (LHD) amphibious ships will be a game changer for its ability to project force.

In mid-1987, troops from the Australian Army’s Operational Deployment Force stood off shore from Fiji spread amongst the warships HMAS Parramatta and HMAS Sydney; the supply ship, HMAS Success; and the Royal Australian Navy’s one and only amphibious ship, HMAS Tobruk. These troops were there as part of the Australian government’s response to the May 1987 Fiji coup by elements of the Royal Fiji Military Forces, led by Lieutenant Colonel Sitiveni Rabuka.
While the Australian Defense Force (ADF) was to maintain this force for seventeen days, it quickly demonstrated the poor state of joint capability at the time, including: inadequate doctrine, poor communications between services, shortage of amphibious ships and craft, and the absence of operating concepts. The operation was, in the end, a “sobering demonstration of the limits of Australian military power in the late 1980s.”
At the time, the ADF had been structured around the Defense of Australia (DoA). DoA focused on concentrating air and sea power to defend the air-sea gap to Australia’s north. This sea denial strategy placed little emphasis on the ability to project force in Australia’s near region and left Australian policymakers with precious few options in the region when events such as the military coup in Fiji occurred.
Operation Morris Dance was, however, the starting point of the development of the modern day ADF amphibious capability. A development that took its greatest leap into the future with the arrival of the first of two new 27,000 ton Landing-Helicopter Dock (LHD) amphibious ships in its new home port of Sydney on March 13 of  this year. 

Read the full 2 page story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Australia’s Fight Against Islamic Extremists

Image: Jamie Kennedy via Flickr

By Kevin Placek

The government is stepping up efforts to deal with both domestic threats and Australian extremists active abroad.

What is the number one security threat currently facing Australia? According to a growing chorus of political leaders and government officials, the answer is the rapidly escalating threat posed by Islamic extremism. Having contributed troops and fought in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, this shouldn’t come entirely as a surprise. Australia, like most Western nations, has long accepted the possibility that a terrorist attack by violent extremists could take place within its own borders, whether in reaction to the government’s policy abroad or in ideological opposition to the liberal values underpinning Western society. Recent events, however, have shifted the focus.
The threat of home-grown terrorism and the growing reality of Australians engaging in terrorist activities abroad is becoming a much greater security concern. The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) estimates that around 150 Australians are currently engaged with extremist groups in Syria and Iraq. In a recent speech, ASIO Director General David Irvine pointed out that most of them have become involved “either by travelling to the region, attempting to travel or supporting groups there from Australia.” While this isn’t the first time Australians have been involved in jihadist conflicts, Irvine warned that the number of Australians taking part in these conflicts is “unprecedented.”
That sentiment is widely shared within the security establishment. Peter Leahy, a former Chief of the Army, recently told The Weekend Australian that Australia is involved in a century-long war against radical Islam. “We must be ready to protect ourselves and, where necessary, act pre-emptively to neutralise the evident threat,” he warned. What was once seen as primarily an external threat – the “home-grown lone wolf or small extremist cells” in Irvine’s words – has become a much more domestic affair with Australians supporting groups in Iraq and Syria from home through social media and other means as well as fighting overseas. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Okay, the U.S. Is Very, Very Likely to Defend Japan, Then

Image: Chuck Hagel via Flickr

By Jun Okumura

Don’t underestimate the importance of the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands to Japan…or the importance of Japan to the US.

I stand corrected by Professor Paul Sracic’s scholarship and experience in U.S. law and politics with regard to U.S. President Barack Obama’s legal considerations behind his actions regarding the no-fly zone in Libya. (I did raise the possibility of a case in which such prior authorization would not be feasible, but that was never a focal point of Professor Sracic’s original argument nor the main thrust of my counterargument, so I will leave it at that.) I shall also accept his assessment that “[i]t seems foolhardy to ignore this increasingly significant ‘creeping isolationism’ in U.S. politics when trying to predict the actions of Congress, whether one is talking about the Middle East, or the East China Sea.” And I shall concede the “the insignificance of the islands in the eyes of most Americans.” However, the Senkaku Islands are much more than just “a set of uninhabited islands to the south” to Japan.
The Senkaku Islands have only minimal economic value to Japan with regard to the seabed resources in the surrounding exclusive economic zone, the current situation being as it is. But there is a practical reason for maintaining administrative control over the islands, for the islands do have some potential as a military outpost. No Japanese administration has suggested such use, and is highly unlikely one would do so regardless of any wishes that the Japanese hard-right may harbor. However, the Japanese government will want to keep the islands out of Chinese hands for security purposes in light of the latter’s actions to secure disputed territory in the South China Sea, if nothing else. The importance of the islands has been enhanced by the ongoing shift in Japan’s post-Cold War national security policy and deployment of its military assets: specifically, less emphasis on the U.S.S.R. (and later Russia) and more on North Korea and China and the safety of its sea lanes – a trend-line that was already in place when Shinzo Abe first assumed office as prime minister in 2006. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Japan Looks to Build Indigenous Fighters

Mitsubishi ATD-X Shinshin (File Photo)

By Ankit Panda

Although it’s committed to the F-35, Japan may still build indigenous stealth fighters.

According to reports out of Tokyo, Japan might begin indigenously building its own fighters, taking greater initiative within the framework of its defense cooperation with the United States. The news is likely to raise concern in China and elsewhere around the region that Japanese militarism may be on the upswing. Previous Japanese attempts to experiment with domestic fighters were met with resistance from the United States, but Japan and the U.S. have jointly collaborated on fighter projects, including the F-2.
According to Defense News, Japans’ “defense ministry plans to seek about ¥40 billion ($387 million) in state funding for the next year starting in April 2015 to test experimental engines and radar-dodging stealth airframe designs for a purely Japanese fighter.” According to Tokyo’s plans, its near-term plan (over the next four years) is to study the financial viability of going with a fully indigenous program. The strategic necessity for Japan to field a robust fighter force comes from a growing perceived threat from China, which has become more assertive about its territorial claims in the East China Sea where Japan and China dispute the sovereignty of several islets. For its part, Beijing regularly warns of impending Japanese aggression, harkening back to Japan’s historical aggression against China in the 1930s. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Chinese Foreign Policy Needs Major Reform

By Dingding Chen

Tao Guang Yang Hui or Fen Fa You Wei? This is the question for China.

Perhaps the most important question facing China and the rest of the world in coming decades is how China will use its increasing power at the global level (this is assuming that China’s power will continue to increase in the future). Is China ready to act like a global leader? If so, how does China need to reform to play this new role? Currently there is a fierce debate within China that focuses on this exact issue.
To simplify it a bit, the debate is between those who emphasize “Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦, or “keep a low profile”) and those who emphasize “Fen Fa You Wei (奋发有为, or “striving for achievement”). The debate itself is not new, as it has been going on for several years already, but the level of intensity is new. Of course, the TGYH school will not completely neglect elements of the FFYW school and vice versa. Nonetheless, the main difference between these two schools of thought in Chinese foreign policy is that the emphasis is on either TGYH or FFYW. We might say that the TGYH strategists put 70 percent of their energy into TGYH and 30 percent on FFYW whereas the FFYW strategists do the opposite.
The debate can get quite intense, as a recent televised debate between General Luo Yuan and formal ambassador Wu Jianming demonstrates. Luo and Wu’s main debating point is whether China’s international security environment has fundamentally changed. Wu believes that today is still the era of “peace and development” whereas Luo believes that China’s security environment is deteriorating. Luo’s main argument is that China should prepare for a war. Wu meanwhile doesn’t think war is approaching and thus China should still focus on development.  There is a certain degree of truth in both Wu and Luo’s arguments, but the key here is to determine how to correctly assess China’s security environment and act accordingly. The balance between being overly aggressive and overly aloof to threats is always hard to find. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: US Voices Exasperation Over Japan-ROK Disputes

By Clint Richards

Bickering complicates U.S. strategy in Northeast Asia and could lead to a less effective alliance.

A meeting of the influential Heritage Foundation offered rare criticism of U.S. allies in Northeast Asia, as former high-level U.S. officials and current foreign diplomats voiced concern over the volatile relationship between South Korea and Japan, and its effect on America’s military alliance with the two. Despite Heritage’s conservative leanings, it members are voicing concerns that are likely shared across the aisle, and especially by the current administration. There are some recent indications that both countries are interested in improving their strained relationship, which will be necessary even given Washington’s influence. A general fatigue over constantly stirring up controversial issues between the two could begin to have a cumulative effect on their ability to cooperate, should the need arise.
At Tuesday’s event, Ahn Ho-yung, Seoul’s ambassador to Washington D.C., said relations could not improve unless Japan recognized its wartime mistakes “fairly and honestly,” specifically referring to the use of “comfort women” during the Second World War. Heritage’s senior research fellow on Northeast Asia Bruce Klingner responded by saying “Washington has become frustrated with both our friends. With Japan for its tin-eared, ham-fisted diplomatic approach toward resolving historic issues, and with South Korea’s insistence on seeing every issue through the lens of history.” In defense of Japan’s recent turn toward military normalization, former chief of the U.S. Pacific Command and Director of National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair said “they should not be confused with a return to 1930s-style militarism. Japan today is so far from that.” A former senior State Department official, Evans Revere, said the two countries have a “dysfunctional” relationship that impedes U.S. initiatives for regional cooperation. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat